Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

  I spent some time Tuesday morning shooting a news story at relatively new place in New Haven called The Grove on Orange Street. (You can see the story here on It's a "co-working" space. At first glance, it's a relatively nondescript storefront that provides office space for people who may otherwise be working at their dining room tables. But a look a little deeper, as I did, and you'll see it provides so much more.

  I found Jeff Kubarych at a desk along the wall under some striking photos taken in Cuba. Jeff is a self-employed marketing consultant. He joined The Grove, looking for a workspace outside of his home office. What he found was a community.

  "I always say, you're only as smart as the people around you," Jeff told me, "and when you're by yourself, there's not a lot of learning that can happen."

  He's learning now, because he's collaborating in ways he never expected. And that's just what The Grove's co-founder Ken Janke likes to hear. He and Slate Ballard founded the place to be much more than an office where people can work. They want it to be a place where people can find support. A community which will inspire them to grow. Ken says you can set up you laptop in a coffee shop -- but no one knows you. And they don't really care what you're doing. At the Grove, they know your name and what you're doing. And they want to help you succeed.

  Jeff Kubarych's business is marketing. But his passion seems to be creativity. He believes there's creativity in all of us -- but we forget, are too busy or too scared to tap into it. After spending some time at The Grove, he and few other "Grovers" (I don't know if they call themselves that) launched Create 96 as an outlet for his creativity. And anyone else's.

  That's the thing that hit me the most about this place -- the power of the people here. There's a real positive energy. Some are self-employed; some work for non-profits. Some have full-time memberships, some are here only a few hours a week. But they're all dreamers. And they value the dreams of others.

Today's title - It's pretty obvious.


  1. Excellent! Can't wait to see the story!

  2. Hey Chris, I had a chance to work with Ken Janke over this past summer and I was able to see The Grove in its final stages of construction before it opened up last year. My work with Ken and The Grove made a big impact on me, and I'm really happy to see this awesome effort getting media attention. Just wanted to thank you for this story; it means a lot to so many people.

    -Patricia Liu ...popularly known as 'Hildy Esterhazy' in 'On The Town' ... ;)

  3. Thank you Patricia -- it's great to see a vision like the Grove become a reality!